I loved this book. It was a page turner for me. Without planning to, I have read several books recently based in Korea or Japan. See my review of Fifty Words for Rain, and one of my favorite books this year Pachinko. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See is also one of my favorite reads this year. Here is my book review of The Island of Sea Women.
Lisa See is also the author of Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane (as well as others) a book I really enjoyed last year. In the Island of Sea Women, See takes us to Korea, and the tiny island of Jeju just off the south tip of the Korean Peninsula.
Here we meet two young girls from very different backgrounds whose destinies will be entwined for all of their days; from Japanese colonialism, through WWII, the Korean War and into the modern era. These young girls, their ancestors and neighbors are the Sea Women, a remarkable group of women who dive the icy cold waters for food to sustain them, their families and thier futures.
In a changing world, this ancient culture will face so many challenges in the modern era, many challenges that will break friendships and families and hearts. I hope you enjoyed my book review The Island of Sea Women. It’s one of my favorite reads in the past several months.
Enjoying my time on Maui I’ve been thinking about all the island’s I have been blessed to visit. It’s a long list. My favorite islands around the world are usually remote and small. But I have also loved some larger, populated and sometimes touristy islands. We are doubtful we will travel international in 2021, but as soon as we can we will be heading to some of the world’s best islands. So many islands, so little time.
Our sudden disruption to our 2020 Grand Adventure last spring due to the virus, eliminated our visit to many islands we have long desired to see; Malta, Guernsey, Jersey and the archipelogos of Finland. We spent seven unexpected weeks on the beautiful island of Cyprus, but in total lockdown and so nothing more than our tiny neighborhood in the village of Argaka. So each of these islands remain on our to visit list.
Over the past five weeks we have been living on the island of Maui, and have just extended our stay another four weeks. So in 2020 we spent six weeks on Mauritius, seven weeks on Cyprus and will have a total of nine weeks on Maui. A total of 22 weeks on islands in 2020. It’s one of the few good things about 2020.
So in today’s blog I thought I would share some of my favorite islands around the world, and a brief description of why they make my fav list. There are several other islands we have visited I don’t mention here…I had to narrow it down. But if you have ever considered traveling to any of these – here are my recommendations;
Very quiet but also expensive. Beaches are nice but having a car at least part of the time is a must if you need to shop. Groceries are very expensive and produce is difficult to get. The people are quiet but nice and it is just beautiful. Boats available to visit other islands.
Don’t miss swimming at Gold Beach Anse Volbert-Côte D’Or,
In October Antiparos was really quiet as the season ends in September. But we had exceptional weather. Some restaurants and businesses in the tiny town were closed for the season but we found everything we needed at reasonable prices. Ferries available to surrounding islands.
By far the tiniest island we have been on, this very low lying Maldivian island is actually an atoll, made up of coral. The weather was incredible and we had the most relaxing three weeks of our life here. Best one day snorkeling of my life off of Huraa. Very little to do, and nearly no shopping. Note that there is no alcohol on this Muslim island!
Size 150 X 500 miles (12th largest island in the world)
Population 1.3 million
Best time to visit December to May
Where we stayed – we rented a caravan and traveled around
New Zealand is downright amazing. We loved both the North and South Island and we would really love to go back and visit again. This is not a laying in the sun island. Rather it is an island for all things recreational: hiking, walking, cycling, bird watching and more. Absolutely stunning. And ridiculously expensive.
It’s been a long time since I visited magical Mackinac and I sure would love to go again. It is so unique, especially in the USA, to find a place with no motor vehicles. Both times I was there in the summer with beautiful weather. Renting bikes and riding around the island is a highlight.
I’m lucky to count myself as one who has visited every Hawaiian Island that isn’t privately owned, and hands down Maui is the best. It is expensive but beyond that everything about it is perfect – the weather, the water, the beach, the food, the activities and the fact for people who live on the west coast of the USA, it’s really easy to get to.
Don’t miss whale watching for humpback whales in the winter months
We loved our time on both of these beautiful islands. Bali is very popular with tourists for its beauty, beaches and vibe. Lombok on the other hand is a unique, tiny and non-touristy island where we spent six glorious days doing nothing but laying in a hammock.
Don’t miss an authentic Balinese Cultural performance in Ubud
I visited Zanzibar with my sister after spending a week on a safari in mainland Tanzania. It remains one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It is also the second worst sunburn I have got. The white sand beaches are amazing. The people are quiet and kind. The seafood delicious.
Don’t miss a ride in an authentic Zanzibar Dhow Boat
Definitely one of the most interesting places I have ever been. This tiny island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is difficult to get to and expensive but worth it. We loved our time here learning about the Moai and the history of Rapa Nui. I highly recommend.
Don’t miss touring with an authorized tour guide to understand the amazing statues and history of this island
We did a five day tour with a guide around the major sites of Sri Lanka seeing some of the most amazing things including the astonishing Sigiriya ancient mountain fortress. Then we kicked back for more than two weeks in a tiny hut on the beach in Hikkadua, which ended up being “interesting” but super fun and the weather and the beach were perfect. The Sri Lankan people are some of the kindest on the planet.
Don’t miss Sigiriya Fortress one of the most incredible things I have ever seen
Size 50 x 80 miles (Isla Isabela, the largest of the archipelago)
Best time to visit January to June
Where we stayed – we were on a small 12 person cruise
My first dip into my bucket list was this trip to the Galapagos Islands to celebrate my 50th birthday. Living on a boat for five nights we saw many islands and the most amazing collection of wildlife and sea life. We loved every minute of it and although it’s expensive, we recommend it to anyone!
We only had a couple of days in Singapore, the teeny island city/state that is one of the most expensive places in the world. It is also one of the cleanest and most colorful, particularly at night. I hope to return.
Don’t miss the Singapore Gardens by the Bay at night and the amazing Singapore Botanic Garden
We only had a couple of day on Nantucket but we were traveling with our young children at the time and it was a great little place for a family vacation. We were there in spring before the hoard of tourists descend in the summer and it was peaceful and beautiful and historic.
Don’t miss a Clam Bake and riding bikes around the island
We drove up to the Maritimes from Boston and enjoyed the drive as much as the islands. Prince Edward Island was still at that time very quiet and we enjoyed riding bikes, eating lobster and learning about history.
Don’t miss searching for sea glass at Souris Beaches
Average temperature – Honshu is a big island with multiple climates but Tokyo average summer high is 80 F
Size 150 x 500 miles
Population 104 million (2nd most populous island after Java Indonesia)
Best time to visit – March to May and September to November
We spent five weeks exploring the island of Honshu. Our kids were little and it was a magical time for us as a family. Japan is one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world. I hope to go back some day.
I have visited these islands many times as they are in the backyard of where I grew up
Average Temperature 55 F
Size – there are nine islands in varying sizes. The two largest are Orcas and San Juan
Best time to visit – Summer months
We have traveled to nearly all of the islands over my lifetime growing up in the Pacific Northwest. The islands are a great place for family camping or romantic getaways. Hiking, cycling and kayaking are popular.
Don’t miss getting up close and personal with the famous J-Pod of Orca Whales on a whale watching tour.
Five generations of women bring this story to life in the olive orchards of northern California. But secrets and genetics come together in this beautifully told story of family ties and a life well lived. Here is my book review of The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo.
Santo introduces us to the matriarch of the family, 112 year old great-grandmother who is a spry as anyone half her age. Four generations of women below her struggle with life in each her own way, as the story unfolds and we learn about love, longevity and the tricks our minds can play on us with memories.
In an effort to be in the Guiness Book of World Records, the incredible genetic story of our matriarch opens a dark secret of the past, bringing to light what does it really mean to be family, and how does our genetic makeup define our health and happiness throughout our lives?
I really enjoyed this story and hope to read more by Courtney Miller Santo.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four Stars for The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo.
Hawaii has strict Covid 19 regulations. Educate yourself before planning a trip. Learn more here.
Since international travel is out of the question at the moment, we have been working on a plan to continue our Grand Adventure without leaving the USA. Hawaii of course was at the top of our list and when they began welcoming guests again on October 15th, we were on one of the first planes to land that day. Maui now – open for business.
To Travel or Not to Travel
I can’t answer this question for anyone but myself. Nor should you judge me for my personal decisions. We, as highly skilled and practiced world travelers don’t take travel or the virus lightly. We have spent a lot of time considering what and how our future will look and how travel will continue to be a part of it.
Maui, and other places like it, where you can spend 16 or more hours a day outdoors, and easily social distance even if dining in a restaurant, is the kind of destination we are looking for. And since we have been to Maui so many times, it was easy for us to plan and execute a five week visit to a place we know well.
Maui Now – Open for Business
It’s like someone flipped a switch. The lights are on and Maui is back in business.
We arrived on October 15th to our 86 unit condo to find only two other units occupied. The first few days or even weeks it was so quiet. Beaches were empty, resorts were closed, very few stores and restaurants were open. Four weeks later, more than half of the 86 units are occupied. Nearly all the resorts are open. This week marked the opening of several major restaurants and attractions. In the coming weeks even more attractions will come back on line as Maui prepares for holiday crowds. Maui Now – Open for Business.
Lahaina and other shopping areas are starting to reopen with more than half the stores restocking and welcoming visitors. All the stores are being very diligent about staff and visitors wearing masks – a mask law is in effect throughout Maui County.
But not everything survived the seven month closure. Like many places around the USA, restaurants and shops have closed permanently. It was just too much.
Social Distancing Easy
Is it safe? For me, I probably wouldn’t choose to go to a luau, but I have felt very safe at the handful of restaurants (all locally owned) that we have visited and sat outside. I have felt very safe getting take-out too. Again, for me I probably would not choose to do a group snorkel tour, although they are in full-swing. But I feel safe golfing with my husband, hiking on nearly deserted trails, and running every morning in my neighborhood. I feel safe at the beach where it’s easy to distance. We actually have avoided the collective BBQ at our condo, only using it twice in a month, in an effort to not stand around with other people we don’t know. We usually have the pool to ourselves when we go there, as most people go to the beach instead.
Gathering with Friends
Completely unplanned but fun nonetheless, we happened to be here at the same time as several friends from back home. I have felt safe spending time with them in small groups. Each of them had to be tested before arriving, and each of them are practicing the same safe distancing and mask wearing rules we are. So we socialized with a hand full of dear friends and it made our visit all the more special.
A Real Vacation and Taking a Break
Being here for a month (with one more week to go) has felt like a real vacation for me. More relaxing than many of the places we travel. Taking a social media break was a wonderful cleanse and I really needed that. I’m so glad I was able to plan and schedule many blogs and book reviews before leaving home – leaving me time to just be present here in Maui.
We have spent a lot of time in the sun, although I have made a conscious effort to be more careful with my tanning (hard for me as my skin is a sun sponge). We have been just active enough and just lazy enough and just social enough and just the two of us enough to make it exactly right. Just enough as we head back to rain and dark and upcoming stress back home – where the Covid numbers are surging.
Where Do We Go From Here
We continue to work hard to stay healthy but of course who knows what the future holds. If Covid has taught me anything it’s that I am not in control. In fact I just read a line in a book that I loved – “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” That’s a quote from Anxious People by Fredrick Bachman. And ain’t that the truth. Making plans you have no idea if you can keep is the new way of life in the time of Covid.
So we head home November 20th and prepare to be with our family for the holidays, deal with some medical issues and prepare the house and ourselves once again for a departure. Mid January we head to Palm Desert where we plan to spend two months, Arizona for another month and Utah for a few weeks after that before heading back to Washington State in May.
These are our plans…hahahaha.
The Grand Adventure, a bit of a kink in the road, but it goes on.
We love it when you pin and share our blog. Aloha.
There have only been a few trilogies or book series that I have found intriguing. I enjoyed the Harry Potter series of course, as well as The Hunger Games. And I really loved Ken Follett’s brilliant Kingbridge trilogy. In fact The Pillars of the Earth is one of my top favorite books of all time. And so I was really excited for Follett’s latest book, the prequel to Pillars of the Earth. Here is my Book Review of The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett.
The Evening and the Morning takes us to England in 997 CE, 150 years before the time of Pillars of the Earth. A brutal time of power wielding nobles and church leaders, who reign over the peasants, often in conflict with the King.
It’s a chaotic time in English history, with Vikings attacking and war with with the Welsh. This uncertain time is the setting for the story of the village of Drains Ferry and the Shiring Abbey. We are introduced to Ragnor, a noblewoman from Normandy who comes to England to marry the Alderman. She is in love with him, but finds a family and a world of deceit, greed, lies and murder. Including her nemesis, Bishop Winston who is her husbands brother.
A young boat builder named Edgar, and an honest monk named Aldred will join with Ragnor in the decades long battle of wits and conflict against the evil Bishop Winston, who will do anything for power and wealth, including murder.
It’s the dawn of the middle ages, life is hard for everyone, unless you are a noble or Church appointed leader. Most of the nobility and church leaders are hungry for power and wealth, and will risk everything. But our heroines and heroes will spend their lives fighting this evil ambition and pursuing a life of honesty and love.
Drains Ferry will become the village of Kingsbridge, and at the end of the book the stage is set for the amazing story in Pillars of the Earth and the trilogy of Kingsbridge.
As usual Follett is brilliant in his research and storytelling. I loved this book and feel so close to all the amazing characters Follett shares with us. Even after thirty years since Pillars of the Earth were published, this book and all it’s sequels and prequels is some of the best literature of the century. I am a huge fan of Follett.
*****Five stars for The Evening & The Morning by Ken Follett.
I’ve spent the majority of my Hawaii vacations on the island of Maui, and it is my favorite of all the islands. But I have been lucky enough to visit each of the islands, most for several days and one for just a day. So I thought I would share with you my personal favorite thing to do on each Hawaiian Island.
The Island of Lanai
With only two hotels on this island, known as the Pineapple Isle, you might consider a day trip from Maui. It’s a great way to visit this tiny island, where Hulopoe Beach is my favorite thing. The marine preserve at this beach is home to tide pools, turtles and wonderful marine life. The golden sand beach is beautiful and it’s a perfect snorkel spot.
The Island of Kauai
The oldest and lushest of all the islands, beautiful and green Kauai is known as the Garden Isle. There are many amazing things to see and do on this beautiful island, but my favorite is Na Pali Coast Wilderness. There are several hikes to get into this beautiful but very remote area. However, don’t attempt hiking here unless you are an experienced hiker.
The Island of Hawaii
The Big Island is the youngest of the inhabited island and is an amazing sight with the recent lava flows and stark and barren landscape. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is amazing, but my favorite thing to do on the Big Island is to do a night swim with the manta rays in Kona. Swimming with the manta rays is one of the most amazing things I have ever done.
The Island of Oahu
The most populous of the islands, nicknamed The Gathering Place, Oahu is home to the state capital of Honolulu. This is the first island I visited back in 1977 and I fell in love with Hawaii. There are so many things to do on this island, but it is also very crowded with tourists. Shopping and dining are popular and of course going to the beach and snorkeling. I loved the quieter and more laid back North shore. But my favorite thing I have ever done on this island is hike up the Koko Head stairs. This “hike” is a scramble up a very steep, uneven, ancient railroad track. It’s 1048 stairs up. It is hard but it’s still my favorite thing to do on Oahu.
The Island of Molokai
The Friendly Isle is very much that. This island feels the most like what I imagine Hawaii was sixty or so years ago. There is lots to do on The Friendly Isle, but my favorite thing, unfortunately is currently closed. Taking a mule ride down to the Kalaupapa Leper Colony is an amazing experience. The history is fascinating and the beauty is sublime. I hope this attraction can reopen. You can get to the colony by flying, but the mule ride is just so awesome. While on Molokai be sure to visit Kamoi Snack-n-Go ice cream shop! It’s owned by my dear friend Kimberly and you will love the ice cream!
The Island of Maui
Maui no ka oi. The Valley Isle. My favorite island and one of my favorite places in the world. I love Maui. I just tried to count how many times I have visited Maui and I think it’s about 8…but maybe 10. Anyway in all those visits we have done pretty much every attraction and seen every destination there is. I have a favorite beach (Keawakapu), a favorite restaurant (Mama’s Fish House), a favorite place to run (Wailea Beach), a favorite hike (La Perouse), a favorite farmers market (Upcountry), a favorite snorkel spot (Blackrock Kaanapali) and a favorite public golf course (Maui Nui). I even have a favorite yoga studio (Maui Yoga Path).
But what is my most favorite thing to do on the beautiful Valley Isle? Absolutely Nothing. I love to sit with my morning coffee or my afternoon gin and listen to the waves and breath the clean fresh air and count my blessings.
I looked forward to this book by Lisa Wingate, because I really enjoyed her earlier work Before We Were Yours. Once again Wingate takes a significant event in history and creates a fictional tale that brings the reader back in time. The Book of Lost Friends provides a wonderful history lesson. Here is my Book Review of The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate.
There are two parallel stories in The Book of Lost Friends. The first follows Hannie, a former slave girl in 1875 as she becomes entangled in a sinister crime ring. During this adventure she discovers a newspaper that provides former slaves an opportunity to place ads looking for lost family members separated during slavery. The ads become what drives Hannie to survive the adventure she is snared in along side her mistress Lavinia and Juneau Jane, Lavinia’s mulatto half sister. The women begin to collect stories as they travel and The Book of Lost Friends begins to emerge.
First year teacher Benny, finds herself in a back water Louisiana school in 1987 with little funds, direction or motivation for the poor and forgotten children of the town…many descendants of slaves. The town is suspicious of Benny and her unconventional teaching ideas and throw roadblocks in her way at every turn. Until she befriends the local heir to the former glorious town plantation with centuries of history connecting nearly everyone in town
The stories of these two women will merge in a history lesson for both the town and the reader of The Book of Lost Friends. Once again I have really enjoyed Wingate’s ability to to take the reader on a historical journey with interesting and engaging characters and a happy ending .
*****Five stars for The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.